I’m a follower of Christ. I believe in the authority of Scripture. I also support gay marriage.
Gay marriage and Christians. When one thinks of these two topics together, most people, I would gather, picture Christians out there holding their angry signs about repenting and turning and burning and that whole Adam and Steve bit that some people still think is clever. Why is this? I think about this a lot, and I can’t quite wrap my brain around the line of thinking that involves making sure everyone is an earshot away, or in view of your bumper sticker, or your big scary sign displaying that you are a Christian and you are anti-gay. Why do these Christians feel the need to ensure that everyone knows they are repulsed by the idea of gays doing anything besides cowering at an alter and begging for God’s forgiveness.
My first problem with this whole thing is that the issue of legalizing Christian marriage and the issue of bringing it into the Church are two totally different things. It seems obvious according to I Timothy 3 that any church leader ought to live a lifestyle that is above reproach. A practicing homosexual is not above reproach, (given that homosexual acts are in fact sinful, which I’ll get around to addressing in a moment) and so should not be appointed to leadership. This is true in the same way that an ineffective communicator, or a lazy person or a person who struggles unsuccessfully with alcohol abuse should not be appointed to leadership. So, I’m not going to deal fully with this part of the issue because in all honesty, I think it’s fairly simple. However, I will address the legality: Hello out there! Attention everyone! This is not a Christian country. I repeat, this is NOT a Christian country. Oh, it is? Oh, it was founded on Christian principles? All right then, I will be collecting ten percent of your income today to be tithed to your neighborhood Christian church. And I will be instituting laws that do not permit sex before marriage, working on the Sabbath or the practice of any other faith. You will be taken to jail if you lie, flip the bird at a bad driver, run a stop sign, complain or argue.
I think we all know that we do not want Christian principles controlling our nation, because even the most dedicated Christian wants to live in the freedom of Christ. He/she wants to live with the freedom to work out his salvation with God on a personal level, chipping away at impatience, selfishness, unhealthy view of men/women, chronic lateness, etc. This brings me to my second issue. Why do we elevate homosexuality above other actions/lifestyles that are more socially acceptable.
When we look at the issue of homosexuality through the lens of Scripture, we can see that it is clearly not what God meant for us. God intended for sex to be an occurrence between a man and a woman, within the context of marriage. According to Scripture, the main purpose of marriage is to be a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the Church, the man representing Christ and the woman representing the Church. This given, we can conclude that homosexual activity is sinful and it offends God, which Scripture states rather obviously (I Corinthians 6). But there are lots of things that the Bible mentions as being less-than-wholesome that people do all of the time. We tell white lies, we flirt with strangers even though we’re in a committed relationship, we gossip, we call in sick when we really want to leave early for a weekend trip.
These things are wrong. But no one would ever question whether any of these things should be legal, and certainly we would not take the time to publicly condemn these “crimes” in the name of Christ, even if they were illegal. For example, the Bible talks about stealing being wrong, but you don’t see Christians out there on the courthouse steps telling Martha Stewart to repent. However, the anti-gay t-shirts, the tracts, the bumper stickers, the radio show calls, and the signs all abound. There is no sensible reason that this issue gets the airtime it does. The bottom line is that people have, in the name of God, beaten down, offended, taken issue with, condemned, judged and hated an entire people-group for one particular set of practices that don’t even directly affect most of the people who are doing the protesting. This particular thing makes people uncomfortable, maybe in the same way that people of color make some white people uncomfortable. It’s an unfounded, unwarranted FEAR. This is the name of the heavy chain that is burdening the Church in this issue.
Most Christians struggle to act out biblical confrontation/rebuke within the Church, because it’s uncomfortable and tense to tell someone close to you that you disagree with their actions. People feel uncomfortable getting involved in the lives and struggles of their brothers and sisters, and so they avoid action because of fear. Fear of damaging the relationship, I presume. But I see lots of them out there confronting people with whom they have no relationship with at all. In general, these people who are the target of such judgement do not subscribe to God’s book or His guidelines, and have not experienced a relationship with God. I hear a lot of calls on radio talk shows, with people who are claiming to be Christians spouting hatred and disgust at “those people” having certain rights.Interestingly, I see a lot of Scripture devoted to the idea of social justice, being a voice for the voiceless and not standing for the oppression of others. Jesus clearly reached across social boundaries to exemplify the righteousness associated with extending truths and equality to marginalized people groups. We can see in John chapter 4, Jesus reaching out in love to a person who represented two groups, traditionally oppressed in new testament times: women and Samaritans. Isaiah 10:1 is clear in shaming those who make laws that are difficult for people to follow and unjust in whom they target. It is certainly true that Christians in America have historically marginalized and spoken out against homosexuality. In general, when homosexuals or those sympathetic to that issue think of Christians, they think: gay bashers, homosexual haters, closed-minded, inconsiderate, exclusionary, angry, rude and unloving. Are any of these the fruits of the spirit? Do any of these echo Christ’s summary of our duty as Christians to “love God and love our neighbor?”
I do not see Jesus spending nearly as much time condemning homosexuality as He did drawing people to Him. Isn’t that what we are called to do: draw people to us, sincerely, into relationship? I believe— from what I glean from the Word about Christ and His character and the things that are important to God— that the Lord is more interested in me standing up for the rights of someone who is being oppressed than to contribute to the oppressing. If someone that I was in a relationship with, claimed to be a follower of Christ and wanted to let God shape them and guide their life, but they chose to engage in a homosexual relationship— it would be my duty as their spiritual peer, to come to them and inquire and offer perspective to them. If it came down to it, I would need to go through the Matthew 18 process of confronting them on a sin. But if a person has no ties to the Bible, no relationship with God, and no interest in faith— as an American and as a Christian— it is my duty to stand up for their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Though these may not be the values I seek most fervently in my own life, as a white, middle-class heterosexual, I can be pretty sure I will always (easily) have the right to pursue those things. It is my job to use my power to see to it that others have these same rights.